Chasing Down the Muse: Remembering the loss of youth

"The world is full of lots of lousy choices."

— Cathy Aison


The day had a strong autumnal feeling already.

Clouds scooted across the clear blue sky under a hot sun as we drove home in the late afternoon. I had spent the day with my mother, sister, brother and husband doing pretty much nothing at all in the heat of the desert. As we drove home, my mind turned for no apparent reason to the loss of our youth.

No, no! Not the loss of our own youth. Despite the fact that all of us were varying degrees of 60-plus, our own loss of youth was not what was bothering me. Sure, we have aging skin, failing eyesight, aches and more, but that wasn't it.

Instead, in the midst of political wrangling and other world issues that had come up during the course of conversations, as we drove home I found myself grieving the loss of a broad assortment of young people. Some I knew of; some I had known; and some I just worried about their wayward ways.

I found myself thinking of the youth who have lost their promise due to those "lousy choices" mentioned above. Some choices merely turned out to be lousy. One could not have known.

But others? A little good sense might have changed the outcomes.

What has become of the war on drugs? While there have been changes in misuse of prescription drugs, I am saddened by the many losses of either life, promise or both that have come due to drug use.

Whether the drugs were merely part of some party atmosphere or taken to get a rush of feelings or to deaden the feelings, there were so many "reasons" for these choices to have been made. Casual use had gone too far.

Jails, prisons and rehab units are all filled with these choices. Youth is lost for these inhabitants. Many will never be able to go back, to fulfill the promise of their earlier youth.

Those of us who are older have certainly made myriad lousy choices of our own. This does not make me grieve less but perhaps even more. How many of our own choices affect youthful ones now?

And so, on that warm afternoon drive, I found myself pondering the loss of so many promising young people. None of us seem to have the solution.

Lousy choices will continue in many areas probably ad infinitum. Meanwhile, we try to live lives of good example and raise young people who will make good choices.

And when my youth has gone and I have too, I only ask to have my ashes cast to the wind. Then, plant a tree in my name, whose branches birds may use for rest and to sing their songs. Add a bench overlooking the sea where all, young and old, may regain hope and peace for their lives.

Good choices for me, I think.

Life is good. Enjoy.

CHERRIL DOTY is an artist, writer and director of the Sawdust Studio Art Classes in Laguna Beach. Always fascinated, inspired, and titillated by the beauty and the ever-changing mysteries of life, she can be reached at or by phone at (714) 745.9973.

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